By Paul Stackhouse, Sports Writer, The Decatur Daily
As a child, David Parks knew he wanted to call Decatur home. His wish came true in August 1955, when he was only 11.
Not only was it a good move for Parks, it was a great move for Decatur.
Last summer, the city named the boat launch at Ingalls Harbor in Parks’ honor.
Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, credited Parks with spearheading the effort to build the boat launch.
“David was sitting on our board back then, and he was instrumental in getting the board to bring up the venue for Decatur that is now Ingalls Harbor,” she said. “He put a lot of hard work into it. He knew who to call and who to bring in, and he put everything on the table. Last year, David wasn’t on the board anymore, but a member brought up the idea to name the launch after him. We all agreed. Because of David, we now have one of the finest harbors in the Southeast, if not the U.S.”
Ingalls Harbor has been the site for several fishing tournaments, including Bassmasters and FLW. But that’s just the beginning. Riverfest, the Decatur/Morgan County Alabama Wild Game Cookoff and a long list of smaller bass and crappie tournaments look to Ingalls to host their events. And you can’t forget the locals who use the facility regularly.
Some of the biggest names in bass fishing have praised Ingalls Harbor.
They can’t believe the 10-boat launch ramp and all the docking facilities where tournament anglers can park and weigh their fish without having to rush to load
Big-name fishermen such as Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese have spoken highly of the harbor.
“When I was 11, we came to Decatur for a visit,” Parks said. “As we approached Decatur from Huntsville on old Highway 20, and I could first see all the water, my first words were, ‘Look at all that water. Please, Daddy, let’s move here.’ ”
When asked about how his name became part of Ingalls Harbor, Parks didn’t have to think too long.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t ask for the boat launch area at Ingalls to be named after me. I have asked about that, but nobody will tell me whose idea it was or how it came about.
“I would like to quickly add that I am very proud of Ingalls Harbor and being part of the team that brought it from idea to reality. To have your name associated with Ingalls is very humbling and proud at the same time.”
Parks pointed out the importance of Ingalls Harbor to our area.
“It’s very important to us,” he said. “A good, safe access to the river was in short supply before Ingalls. Now our boaters have the best facility that I know of anywhere. Many of the tournament people say it is the best facility they visit.
“The best part is the facility cost the local folks almost nothing. The debt on the facility is covered by the $2 a night motel or hotel room tax. Tournaments and visitors using the facility are generating an economic impact that is hard to calculate it is so big and far reaching. ...
“Ingalls will pay for itself many times over.”
Not only did Parks have the drive to bring such a facility to Decatur, he also uses it. He enjoys fishing in some of the big-name bass tournaments, but he only casts on the non-boater, amateur side.
“I’ve thought about going pro, but never seriously,” he said. “When you fish on the pro side, it becomes a job — a good job, but still a job. I don’t want the demands and schedules of a job in my favorite pastime. I will stay an amateur. That’s where I want to be.”
When asked what he gets out of fishing, he doesn’t hesitate to answer.
“Everything! Fishing can be relaxing, and it can also give you a big adrenaline rush when catching a big one or when you are competing for a top spot in a big tournament,” he said. “Fishing puts you close to nature, and I like that. I have enjoyed more sunrises than most, and I have had many experiences with nature. One such experience is something I’ll never forget. One morning I noticed a fox easing through the woods. I cast a plastic worm out in front of it. I shook the worm and the fox put a great sneak on the worm. Just as the fox was ready to pounce, I pulled the worm into the water. The fox was so excited it followed out into the water. I can still see the look on that fox’s face when I said, “Boo!’ ”